Digital Marketing for Beginners - Part Four: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
By Stephen Hudson - Digital Marketing Consultant
It's been a little while since we looked at social media marketing as part of our Digital Marketing Guide for Beginners, but now, after also writing about content marketing and SEO, we're back and looking at Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.
Unlike social media, and to some extent content marketing, PPC is not something everyone can do off the bat, it’s not easy to pick up and run with, and if done incorrectly, it can cost thousands of pounds with very little return on investment (ROI). Fret not, however, as this handy guide will take a closer look at PPC, what it is, how it works, and whether it’s the best marketing channel for your business.
What is PPC advertising?
I think it’s safe to say that if you’re reading this guide, you’ve performed at least once search on Google, and if so, you’ve probably noticed the first few results that appear all have a little “Ad” icon next to them. Well, despite Google’s best efforts to make them look like other results, these are in fact search adverts which have been set up by companies using Google’s advertising platform, AdWords.
Using the Google AdWords system, advertisers create adverts and compete with fellow advertisers for the best positions. Unlike other forms of advertising where traditionally advertisers pay to rent out a space in a magazine, book or even on a website or a billboard on the roadside, advertisers on AdWords only pay-per-click (as the name suggests). Therefore, if you set up adverts and no-one clicks on them, you aren’t charged – although this may indicate more serious problems with your PPC strategy, but more on that later!
How does Google AdWords work?
Google AdWords possibly has one of the most complex user interfaces out there, and for first-time advertisers, the first couple of hours of use can be difficult and daunting. Thankfully, once you’ve got the basics down, it becomes easier to understand.
When accessing AdWords for the first time, you first need to create a campaign – often named after a service your business provides, or something relating to your business – for example, here at Orantec our campaigns may be called “Digital Marketing” or “Web Development”. When you create a campaign, you’ll be required to add your target locations, the type of network you want the ads to appear on (search, display or both), along with your daily budget and maximum Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Your CPC is the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on each click. The amount, along with ad quality, will affect where your ads rank on Google. If your max CPC is £2.50 and a competitor is paying £10 a click, you’re very unlikely to appear above them in the search results, even if your ad quality is 10/10.
Next, you add ad groups to your campaign(s) which focus more closely on what you’re offering. So again, we would create an “SEO” ad group and a “PPC” ad group under our “Digital Marketing” campaign so that we can create ads to target different audiences. Inside each ad group, you can then create as many ads as you like to show on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). Before each ad can go live, they are reviewed by Google to ensure they adhere to Google’s advertising polices. If they don’t, you’ll get a message saying the ad/s was/were disapproved, and often why, so you can fix the problem quickly and easily.
Once you have your campaign and ad groups set up, next you need to add relevant keywords to your ad groups, and we recommend targeting long-tail keywords as they are often more relevant and, depending on your budget and size of company, less expensive per click. We recommend starting with no-more than 10 keywords per ad group and adjusting the number when you get a better understanding of what works for you – you can always add and remove keywords and ads after the campaign is live, and AdWords has a nice little feature that allows you to block keywords that you don’t want your ads to show for, allowing you to better target audiences; Google AdWords is all about trial and error, so don’t be disheartened if you find the campaign isn’t performing as well as you hoped straight away.
Once you have your campaign, ad groups and keywords all set up, you then need to set up conversions. Conversions are often set up to track when someone clicks on the ads and submits a contact form, purchases an item or visits a certain page, but will differ depending on your requirements. To properly track conversions, you need to link your Google AdWords and Analytics and add the relevant conversion code to the forms, buttons or pages on your website.
Before making the adverts live, you also need to add your billing details, and you can also take advantage of ad extensions. Ad extensions are add-ons that you can display on your ads, they commonly include phone numbers, location/address details, and other pages on your website. These extensions are commonly used, and many searchers will click on them to directly contact an advertiser, especially phone numbers on mobiles!
Once everything is live, you’ll start to see that your ads have an average ad position, which relates to their position in relation to other advertisers on the SERPS. As we mentioned earlier, your ad position is influenced by your CPC and your ad rank – a ranking given to each ad by Google based on the CPC, the ad’s text, and the quality of the landing page the user is taken to. To improve your ad positon, you may need to increase your CPC or improve the quality of your landing page, this will differ between advertisers.
Is PPC the right marketing channel for you?
Now that you know the basics of PPC, next you have to ask yourself whether it’s the right marketing channel for you. PPC can get very expensive, but is an excellent way of increasing the number of hits on your website immediately. PPC is very effective for retail businesses, especially at this time of year when people are looking to buy Christmas gifts. If your overall goal is to simply increase traffic to your website, then we wouldn’t recommend PPC as you’ll struggle to determine whether the traffic is relevant, but if you’re launching a new product or marketing campaign, PPC can give you the initial boost you need.
Ultimately, it comes down to what your goal is, but if you’re just looking to increase traffic numbers, we recommend focusing more on social media marketing and SEO because, as long as you put the effort in, they will generate the best ROI in the long run.
If you’re confused about PPC, SEO and social media marketing, or just don’t have the time to work on them yourself, our digital marketing services can help. To find out how we can help your business grow online, get in touch today on firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our online enquiry form.